Testing a seasonal slaughter model for colonial new england using tooth cementum increment analysis

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Seasonality and the potential for seasonal cycles in domestic animal use have not been adequately studied by zooarchaeologists working with faunal assemblages from sedentary populations husbanding domestic mammals. Studies of subsistence practices in colonial New England demonstrate the strongly seasonal nature of animal husbandry and slaughtering practices. This paper examines the historically derived seasonal patterns, and evaluates them against faunal data. Seasonal slaughtering cycles are interpreted from cementum increment patterns in 61 cattle, pig, and caprid teeth from four historical sites in Massachusetts, spanning the period 1630-1825. The methods used to prepare and analyse the tooth thin-sections are outlined, and an interpretation of seasonal slaughter patterns is then presented and discussed. The seasonal slaughter cycle interpreted from the cementum increment analysis is extremely similar to that derived from historical studies. Comparison of the urban and rural slaughter patterns suggests that the seasonal slaughter cycle in urban areas was extremely traditional and fundamentally similar to rural patterns. This implies that meat distribution systems in colonial New England's urban areas were not sufficiently developed to overcome the meat preservation problems underlying the rural seasonal slaughter cycle. © 1993 Academic Press, Inc.

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Journal of Archaeological Science